Bill Moyers on FDR

From The Nation:

When I was born he (Moyers' father) was making two dollars a day working on the highway to Oklahoma City. He never made over $100 a week in the whole of his working life, and he made that only when he joined the union on the last job he held. He voted for Franklin Roosevelt in four straight elections, and he would have gone on voting for him until kingdom come if both had lived that long. I once asked him why, and he said, "Because the President's my friend." Now, my father never met FDR. No politician ever paid him much note, but he was sure he had a friend in the White House during the worst years of his life. When by pure chance I wound up working there many years later, and my parents came for a visit, my father wanted to see the Roosevelt Room. I don't know quite how to explain it, except that my father knew who was on his side and who wasn't, and for twelve years he had no doubt where FDR stood. The first time I remember him with tears in his eyes was when Roosevelt died. He had lost his friend.
My father, with his fourth-grade education and two fingers with the missing tips from the mix-up at the cotton gin, got it when Roosevelt spoke. "I can't talk like him," he said, "but I sure do think like him." My father might not have had the words for it, but he said amen when FDR talked about economic royalism. Sitting in front of our console radio, he got it when Roosevelt said that private power no less than public power can bring America to ruin in the absence of democratic controls.

Don't think for a moment he didn't get it when Roosevelt said that a government by money was as much to be feared as a government by mob, or when he said that the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. My father got it when he heard his friend in the White House talk about how "a small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor--other people's lives." My father knew FDR was talking for him when he said life was no longer free, liberty no longer real, men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness--against economic tyranny such as this. And my father listened raptly when his friend the President said, "The American citizen"--my father knew the President was speaking of him--"could appeal only to the organized power of government."

NYTimes Editorial Board: Say No to Computerized Voting Machines

The 2008 presidential election is fast approaching and some states are still using unreliable paperless computerized voting machines.

That is a big mistake. The danger is too great of votes being recorded wrong — or stolen.

Touchscreen machines — which resemble a bank ATM — are simply too prone to glitches like “vote-flipping,” in which votes for a candidate are recorded for his or her opponent. And it is too easy to plant malicious software that changes votes without anyone noticing.

Many states, but not all, now require their touchscreen machines to produce a “voter-verified paper trail” — a paper record of the vote that a voter can review, which becomes the official ballot. These paper records can be audited, to ensure that the recorded vote totals are correct.

Voter verified paper trails are an improvement, but the best solution is to avoid touchscreen voting machines entirely.

NYTimes Blogger on School Uniforms

A good point for those who think prayer and uniforms will save our schools:

Will school uniforms help re-establish education as the top priority in our American cities? Will uniforms cause parents to become vested in their children?s education? Will uniforms provide for stable and loving households? Will uniforms motivate the students to care about their own education? Will uniforms abolish social promotion? Will uniforms integrate the schools? Will uniforms prevent gang membership and teen pregnancy? Will uniforms provide financial security? Will uniforms prevent drug dealing and drug addiction? Will uniforms bring better teachers and facilities? Will uniforms combat teacher disillusionment? Will uniforms finance more technology-based education? Will uniforms save the music and arts programs? Will uniforms increase attendance and decrease tardiness?
As with school prayer, I think proponents of school uniforms are relying on a simple, popular and very superficial “solution” to remedy the complex societal and educational issues that currently plague the schools and students in our cities’ low-income communities.

Charles Peirce on Dukakis and Midwest Passenger Rail

I would love to see this happen:

As part of the day job, I had occasion to talk for a while last week with Michael Dukakis, whose energy I continue to envy. We talked about trains. My lord, does this man like to talk about trains. Anyway, he mentioned that, somewhere in a dusty file cabinet, there is a plan for a 10-state high-speed passenger rail system that would connect all the major -- and some of the not-so-major -- cities in the Midwest. As it happens, I spend an awful lot of time in O'Hare Airport -- aka Gehenna With Bookstores. Some ungodly large percentage of the flights in and out of that sclerotic nightmare cover 350 miles or less, according to Dukakis. If you could get from Chicago to St. Louis -- city center to city center -- in four hours, why would you not do that? Or Indianapolis to Madison -- again, city center to city center. This whole thing was a revelation to me. More to the immediate point, Iowa is included in the plan and, as Dukakis fumed, have you heard any of the Democratic contenders even mention this thing in the past two years? (The GOP field is, of course, hopeless, unless the plan can be made to include windowless cattle-cars for the transportation of undocumented lawn-service men, or a luxury rolling seraglio for Mrs. Giuliani du jour, or both. However, it should be noted that one of the original drivers of the plan was Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor who's already dropped out.) Part of the whole reason for giving slices of Velveeta like Iowa and New Hampshire pride of place in the nominating process is to make the national bigfeet respond to local concerns. This is why we have to talk about freaking ethanol every four years. This is a real plan -- and, note well, Dean Broder, a bipartisan plan -- that will ease congestion, reduce greenhouse gases, and make lives easier for hundreds of thousands of people across an important region of the country -- to say nothing of the fact that it will help get this country on the same track -- Yeah, I know, but there was no way around it -- with the rest of the industrialized world on something. (Today passenger rail; tomorrow, universal health care!) Speak up, lady and gentlemen.

Iraq: 5 More Years?

It's all here:

The briefing seemed uneventful -- very much a reflection of the ongoing mood of the moment among American commanders in Iraq -- and received no significant media coverage. However, there was news lurking in an answer Col. Bannister gave to a question from AP reporter Pauline Jelinek (about arming volunteer local citizens to patrol their neighborhoods), even if it passed unnoticed. The colonel made a remarkable reference to an unexplained "five-year plan" that, he indicated, was guiding his actions. Here was his answer in full:

"I mean, right now we're focused just on security augmentation [by the volunteers] and growing them to be Iraqi police because that is where the gap is that we're trying to help fill capacity for in the Iraqi security forces. The army and the national police, I mean, they're fine. The Iraqi police is -- you know, the five-year plan has -- you know, it's doubling in size. ? [We expect to have] 4,000 Iraqi police on our side over the five-year plan.

"So that's kind of what we're doing. We're helping on security now, growing them into IP [Iraqi police]?. They'll have 650 slots that I fill in March, and over the five-year period we'll grow up to another 2,500 or 3,500.

Most astonishing in his comments is the least astonishing word in our language: "the." Colonel Bannister refers repeatedly to "the five-year plan," assuming his audience understands that there is indeed a master plan for his unit -- and for the American occupation -- mandating a slow, many-year buildup of neighborhood-protection forces into full fledged police units. This, in turn, is all part of an even larger plan for the conduct of the occupation.

State Law: City Electeds Can Not Sell to Businesses With Liquor Licences

It's been months since Norm Barber resigned from the Stevens Point city council, citing an "archaic law" that prohibits city aldermen from selling materials to businesses that hold liquor licenses.
Barber, who owns Barber's Sewing Machine & Vacuum Cleaner Shoppe, 2400 Church St., has said he sells vacuums to around 90 percent of the taverns in Portage County. According to state statute 125.51 (1b), "No member of the municipal governing body may sell or offer to sell to any person holding or applying for a license any bond, material, product or thing that may be used by the licensee in carrying on the business subject to licensure."

Paul Soglin on Govt Regulation "Rural Electrification, Town Roads, Grandma's Telephone, and the Packers on Cable TV"

I like how this post starts:

It was not Milton Friedman's free market capitalism that brought electricity to rural Wisconsin and America. It was not Ronald Reagan's dismissal of government regulation that paved roads from the farm to town. It was not some silly Neocon view of the world that installed a telephone in Grandma's living room in some poor neighborhood of Milwaukee.

All of those changes were the result of government interference in the market place through regulation, taxation, and the redistribution of both public and private resources.

After the 1936 passage of the Rural Electrification Act, bureaucrats worked to assist electric utilities to wire rural America with low-interest loans and technical assistance. Congress decided that the social value of rural electrification would mean progress for farmers and their families. It was not some invisible hand that lead to the mechanization of American agriculture.

State legislatures and county boards voted to build paved roads to small towns and farms. That was a redistribution of tax dollars, mostly coming from wealthy city folks. Some of it was self interest, some of it not. After all, getting goods to market, through these public subsidies benefited the producer and the consumer.

Eighty years ago the telephone was a luxury. Yet state legislatures and their regulatory public service commissions made it clear to AT&T that if the behemoth wished to wire wealthy neighborhoods, they would have to provide service to the poor ones as well.

Brown County Republican Party Shut Down

No interest in leadership...

State Republicans have disbanded the Green Bay area’s Republican Party after its chairman was busted for child enticement and the party couldn’t muster enough officers to pick a new leader.
The party’s dissolution comes as the GOP fights to recover from some painful losses in northeastern Wisconsin, historically a staunch Republican stronghold.

A year ago, Democrat Steve Kagen narrowly defeated Republican star John Gard in the race for the 8th Congressional District seat, which encompasses northeastern Wisconsin. Gard has since vowed to defeat Kagen and has campaigned against him for months. And Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, handily beat GOP challenger Mark Green of Oneida, just outside Green Bay.
Fleischman’s resignation created two vacancies in the party’s officer corps. Holly Arnold, the first vice-chairperson, did not want the top spot, and the second vice-chair position already was vacant, said state GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

That meant the party didn’t have enough officers to call a caucus to elect new officers, Priebus said. At Arnold’s request, the state GOP decertified the county party on Nov. 13.

That move, for all practical purposes, dissolved the party. Priebus said the state GOP itself can now call Brown County Republicans together to pick officers and start the county chapter anew.

Priebus said the state party expects to call meetings soon and hold an officers election within the next two months.

I don't blame them, I wouldn't want to be known as a leader in the Republican party right now either. Not just because of the legal charges of the members/leaders.

It is their stands on taxation, healthcare and freedom that would embarrass me.

How can you publicly defend that?


Winnebago County Personal Function Review & 71 Things

For anyone interested in what your county government does for you, I published the Winnebago County Personal Function Review documents on my County County Board Website: www.winnebago17.org.

Also, I put together a smaller overview of 71 Things Your County Does (why 71? I wanted to keep it to 4 pages). I did not include some obvious ones, such as roads.

If you want a larger read, the full 23 page program overview is here.

VA Republicans Demand Loyalty Oath to Vote

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- If you're planning to vote in Virginia's February Republican presidential primary, be prepared to sign an oath swearing your Republican loyalty.

The State Board of Elections on Monday approved a state Republican Party request to require all who apply for a GOP primary ballot first vow in writing that they'll vote for the party's presidential nominee next fall.

There's no practical way to enforce the oath. Virginia doesn't require voters to register by party, and for years the state's Republicans have fretted that Democrats might meddle in their open primaries.

Virginia Democrats aren't seeking such an oath for their presidential primary, which is held the same day -- February 12th.


Pie Me in the Face for the United Way! This Wednesday!

Along with:

Mark Harris, Gordon Hintz, Jessica King, Frank Tower, Eric Sparr, Colleen Bradley, Bill Whitlock and John Fitzpatrick.

Wednesday, Nov 28th - 5:30-7:30PM - Pies fly at 7:00PM!

Flyer Below!